My first pens were cheap Indian fountain pens basically meant for students. Some of the names I remember are President, Plato, Wilson and Bismi. Unfortunately, none of the early pens have survived, partly because I lacked a sense of history and partly because they did not survive the rigorous handling of an energetic and not too careful youth.
There were also a horde of Chinese pens like Youth and Hero, some of which have survived till date. I would write a review of these later.
Today, I want to review my favourite fountain pen of my college and early career days, the venerable Parker 45.
This pen was gifted to me by an uncle who used to work in Kuwait. He was particularly fond of me and would bring small trinkets for me every time he comes to Kerala on vacation, which was only once an year. The year I was to go to college, he pleasantly surprised me with the gift of this blue gem of a pen. During the early Sixties, a Parker pen was not an item easily found in the procession of anyone less than the Aristocracy, and even among them, a 14 year old student would consider himself lucky to own one. The Parker made me a hero among my class fellows and I, contrary to my usual nature zealously protected and kept it secure.
Coming to the pen itself, the Parker 45 has been one of the most popular fountain pens made by this US company.Though Parker was known as the makers of luxury deluxe pens like the Duofold, it is indeed a tribute to Parker Pen manufacturer's commitment to writing that they took pains to maintain a line of cheap but excellent writing instruments addressed to the students and the less affluent. Parker 45 is the most successful survivors among the latter category.These pens managed to maintain the quality of writing which made Parker famous by retaining designs, but making them affordable by using cheaper materials like plastic bodies and steel nibs.
Parker 45 was designed by the most famous of the designers of the company, Don Doman, who was inspired by an Eversharp design, “10 000” which was practically the last pen designed and marketed by the iconic Eversharp before its pen division was acquired by Parker.
The Parker 45 was tapered on both sides, making a very slim design loved by small handed students and women. It had the classic Parker Aeromatic ink filler system which could take modest amounts of ink and hence requiring biweekly filling of ink. During the three hour Language and literature examinations, it was my practice to carry a small bottle of ink, just in case. However, I cannot recall a single occasion when the ink bottle had to be put to use during exams. The carrying of a spare ink bottle did convey an air of studious scholarship, which invariably impressed girls and teachers.
The nib is a very short and stiff steel of medium broadness. It is smooth enough to write fast, but offers the right amount of stiffness and resistance to keep proper control over handwriting. May be, it is due to the constant use of this pen for over eight years, I feel comfortable with a pen which offers some resistance against paper. Smooth writers like parker Duofold or even the Lamy Safari tend to make me write fast, and even a bit carelessly, affecting the quality of my writing. Similarly, I find a slightly stiff nib as compared to flexible ones helps me draw crisp and clear lines, making them more legible and easy to read.
It is indeed a tribute to the quality of the materials and the meticulous attention to details of the Parker Company that one of the cheapest of its pens have successfully withstood the constant use and abuse by a student like me who loved to take voluminous notes, wrote verbose answers to questions in the examinations and in spare time wrote articles, essays, poetry and doodled. I cannot easily think of another pen which would have done better under the circumstances. Well may be a Pelikano or a Sheaffer School Pen!
My beloved Parker 45 is still my proud pcession, though the barrel has warped a bit and developed a crack when it was crushed between the table and the wall, when it fell down in 1985
Now a sample of my writing with this pen. Pardon my poor handwriting.